What is spiritual direction?
Spiritual direction is a time-honored spiritual practice in many religions. In Christianity, spiritual direction assists one in building a closer relationship with God or paying more attention to the presence of God in one’s daily life.
Spiritual directors are people who are specially trained in the art of spiritual listening in order to serve those who come to them for one-on-one conversation. In our culture, the term “spiritual direction” can be misleading. Spiritual directors do not tell others what to do or “direct” their lives, but rather provide a safe, confidential space in which to explore spiritual issues (examples below). The real director in spiritual direction is the Holy Spirit. Because of this, many people today prefer the terms “spiritual companioning,” “soul friendship,” or “spiritual mentoring.”
Here is one definition of spiritual direction, from the website of Spiritual Directors International:
Spiritual direction is the process of accompanying people on a spiritual journey. Spiritual direction exists in a context that emphasizes growing closer to God (or the sacred, the holy or a higher power).
Why might someone want to visit a spiritual director or “soul friend”? Here are some common reasons people give:
- I’m facing an important decision/transiton and wonder what God wants
- I hunger for a deeper personal relationship with God
- I was hurt by a religious institution and am struggling to find the love of God
- I am studying theology and don’t want it to just be a “head trip”
- My prayer life feels boring/dry/dead/confusing/needs enrichment
- I want to become more aware of God’s presence in my daily life (integrating my spiritual side with family life, work, service, etc.)
Spiritual directors may charge a fee because they do not receive wages from any institution for this service. The fee is not payment for advice or prayer, but rather to help compensate them for their time. Many offer a sliding scale or make exceptions for those who cannot afford spiritual direction. They do not want people to stay away due to inability to pay.
Spiritual Direction with Julie
Rev. Julie McCarty recently moved to Alexandria, Minn. where she meets with believers/seekers/clients the 700 Cedar Building (“Marian Building”). She was ordained an ecumenical Christian minister by Liberating Spirit Christian Community in Saint Paul, Minn. Julie holds degrees in education and theology, and was trained as a spiritual director at the Hesychia School of Spiritual Direction in Tucson, Ariz. (“Hesychia” is a Greek word from Eastern Christianity that means prayerful, inner stillness.) Her training includes emphasis on various ways to pray, discernment process, finding God in the “everyday experience,” Christian mysticism, and methods of both Christian and interfaith spiritual direction (rooted in classic and contemporary understandings of spirituality).
Julie’s own spirituality is ecumenical, Christ-centered, and focuses on listening for the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives. She grew up in a family whose ancestors were Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran, Ukrainian Catholic, and Polish Catholic. Because of this variety of experience, Julie is open to serving not only active Christians, but also people of other religious traditions, those who feel alienated or hurt by religious institutions, and those unaffiliated with any faith community. She has deep respect for however God or the Divine is already working in your life.
Practical details: During the first meeting, the two people get acquainted, see if it’s “a good fit” and if the Holy Spirit might be leading them to work together. If both agree, they begin to meet about once a month for about one hour. Cost: first meeting free, then sliding scale.
Questions? Want to give it a try? Send Julie an e-mail with “Spiritual Direction” in the subject line or leave a phone message (see contact page).
Dig deeper! Learn more:
YouTube Videos about spiritual direction — Visit Spiritual Directors International website for free online videos explaining spiritual direction. Click here.